Summer lunch program in swing

Published 7:31 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Taking their lunches outside at Bainbridge Middle School are Jasmine Goss and Tiana Fedd. |Carolyn Iamon

Summers can be hard for those children whose family circumstances often make it difficult to regularly put food on the table. Many of those children receive free or reduced-price lunches during the school year, but what happens when school is out for the summer?

Help is available for any person, age 3-18, in Decatur County, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Seamless Summer Option for Children” program.

This is the third year the program has been offered through the Decatur County Schools Nutrition program, and director Debbie Purcell said the program has been successful.

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Free meals are available for summer-school students and walk-ins at three sites:

• Bainbridge Middle School, 1301 E. College St. Breakfast is offered at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., and lunch from noon to 1 p.m. through June 29;

• Bainbridge High School, 1 Bearcat Blvd., lunch only from noon to 1 p.m., through June 28;

• Friendship House of Jesus, 220 N. Russ St., lunch only at 12:30 p.m. through July 16.

Purcell explained that all the cooking is done at the Potter Street School and transported to the other locations. She indicated attendance was down from previous years at the BMS location, but believes that may be because many of those students are now coming to the Friendship House site.

This is the first year the school system has partnered with the Friendship House, and the fact that Friendship House offers transportation is a big plus. Purcell estimates they serve between 100 to 150 children a day there, Monday through Thursday.

Patricia Clark, an instructor at the Friendship House, said the luncheon program is very helpful. She noted that in years past some children who came for the summer programs were hungry. Now they receive a healthy, nutritious meal before class and they can learn better because their bellies are full. “We see very little waste,” she adds.

The school also supplies meals to the summer migrant program held at the School Support Center on Martin Street, but that is a closed site, offered only to the migrant population.